In a farewell address riddled with appreciation, remembrance and jokes, Suffolk County Police Department Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron completed a 37-year chapter of his life.
On Friday, the department honored Cameron with a walkout tribute at police headquarters in Yaphank. His final day with the department is Jan. 3, 2022.
“My very earliest dream was to be a police officer somewhere,” Cameron, 59, said at his walkout Friday. “I remember from my earliest memory all I did was watch police shows… I lived my life, my early life, just wanting to be a police officer. I truly know that I lived the dream, and exceeded my expectations.”
After graduating from the academy, Cameron began his career with Suffolk’s second precinct on Feb. 25, 1985, and went on to be named cop of the year in 1990. He earned the rank of captain in July 2000 and became the commanding officer of the Planning and Community Services Bureau.
The following year, he become the executive officer of the Highway Patrol Bureau, and later served a decade in the Special Patrol Bureau as the executive and commanding officer.
Cameron was promoted to chief of department in November 2015 after serving as both the chief of support services and assistant chief of patrol. He received the department’s Daniel P. Guido Leadership Award in 2016 and has since held the title of acting commissioner on two separate occasions.
His most recent stint in the role followed Geraldine Hart’s departure on May 7 to become Hofstra University’s director of public safety.
Stability after scandal
County Executive Steve Bellone, who has known Cameron since 2012, described the outgoing chief of department as “a man of great integrity, knowledge, skill and dedication.”
The county executive said he turned to Cameron after firing former chief of department James Burke, who was imprisoned for beating a prisoner and attempting a cover-up.
“We needed to turn to someone who could help stabilize the department after this scandal,” Bellone said. “Stu Cameron was the absolute only choice in my mind, somebody who could work with Tim Sini who I had nominated to be police commissioner. Together, they worked to really restore the trust and faith in the department almost immediately, it was pretty incredible.”
A spokesperson for Suffolk County Police confirmed there is no official word on who will lead the department come January. On Monday, Bellone nominated retiring NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison as the department’s new commissioner. If sworn in, Harrison would become the department’s first Black commissioner.
Before driving off with his wife, Margaret, in a 1985 museum patrol car, coinciding with the year he joined the force, he thanked the department, his family and notable guests, and elicited laughs from those who attended the bitter-sweet farewell.
“I was going to choreograph my walk out, I was going to have music,” Cameron said in the middle of his speech. “It’s nice to go out with the Elvis Presley version of ‘My Way,’ and not Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust.'”